that he had red hair. Even when slicked down and adorned with sideburns, his hair color spoiled any “bad boy” effect.

 Black was the appropriate color. You see, of the five cars that had already parked in the lot… almost all of them were black. Quite different from Harvey’s raggedy Plymouth, all were shiny, undented and lowered. All had custom wheels. Wilson had hustled to the meeting in a black ’47 Plymouth coupe complete with spinner hubcaps. It ran a trick multi-carbed six-cylinder engine that barked loudly through home-made headers. That car blew off many small-block V-8s.

 Phillips drove up in a black ’49 Oldsmobile two-door coupe. The Olds harbored an overhead valve-equipped V-8 that could smoke the car’s rear wheels through a four-speed, cast iron Hydra-Matic transmission.

 Our oddball pin-stripe artist, Stotsie… was indeed unique. Though an avid motorcycle fanatic in preference, he motored around on four wheels in a beautiful almost-black ‘48 Ford. As a club, we’d let him float as acceptable in a dark blue convertible, because he was a master at pin-striping.

 At the time, Mike offered up a description of a black Mercury that he’d sold down south before coming home on leave. He

had to relinquish the car to another serviceman before leaving the base in Mississippi, because on service pay he was unable to afford an engine rebuild.










As my old gang talked on that glorious night, the choicest ride in the stable sat at the end of the line. Most would occasionally gaze jealously at Bobby’s newer vintage black ’57 Ford convertible. A guy older than the rest, Bobby had worked at nearby Greenwood Dairy. He could afford car payments. The beauty sat morose in the dim light, hiding beneath a black ragtop rather than white. The hood hid a stormy, four-barrel equipped, V-8 engine. Mike said the engine could snort warnings to all in town through side lake-

pipes. Ticking noises came from beneath its hood while parked. The car sat relaxed and cooling.

 The guys leaned back leisurely against the fenders and sides of the old Plymouth, since scratches from jacket zippers and jeans rivets couldn’t make the finish on the old car any worse. They talked there for about an hour. They told hunting tales about John and Jack. The two mentioned were missing from the group. John was gone forever. He had died in an accident during Mike’s absence, so they usually avoided talking about him at all. Jack was in the military service with Mike. He was the best pheasant hunter of the gang and was serving with the Air Force. The group talked about Jack’s famous shotgun collection, fast cars, recent house fires, and girls… until it was time to go to church.

 No, I’m not kidding. They all went to church! However, before you graciously give them too much credit, consider that the best youth group in town met in the Episcopal recreation room on Main Street. That’s where community dances were held, and that’s where many girls went to worship on Ash Wednesday. So those slightly nefarious young men cleaned two-cent redemption soda bottles from the floor of that dirty black Plymouth and loaded up for church.

Sifting,  cont’d...

874016: Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul
By Chad Bird / Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.